Have you heard of the village of Obermutten? It’s a village of less than 100 people in the mountains of Switzerland. If you become a fan of their Facebook Page, they’ll print out your profile picture and put it on their town notice board*.
Or in the local barn.
Or on the houses in the village.
Because there isn’t enough room on the noticeboard.
Because there are 13,000 fans. And its still growing.
When I first heard of the Facebook Page, I’d seen this YouTube video – showing that this tiny village’s Facebook Page had higher engagement rates than the Lady Gaga and Coca Cola Facebook Pages. While their Fan page is still relatively small on the scale of things, smaller pages often struggle to get any interactions at all.
I decided to check out the page and see just why this page was so popular – beyond the novelty of being frozen in time on a noticeboard on the other side of the world – and the answer is simple.
Unashamedly, the townspeople share snippets of their world. My favourite posts have included updates from the townspeople making a video of recent fog, there is a post dedicated to the town dog, and the Mayor’s daughter knitted a scarf for a Facebook Fan. Between these updates are posts of the villagers attaching photos of their Facebook Fans across the town and updates of how many fans they have – including posts when they have fans from a new continent or country.
When you scroll right to the first post, the first update rather charmingly says “test”, followed by the Mayor (I think!) opening the Facebook Page officially. The page is learning to walk as it goes along and it certainly doesn’t have any grand plan. However, that is the most refreshing part about it. Facebook Pages often feel so commercial that this kind of community is pretty rare. Other examples of similar real-world communities drawing on the masses of Facebook (such as “Rename the town of Speed to SpeedKills“) feel far more orchestrated, even if the same strong community exists in both towns.
One of the most interesting aspects is that the Page posts each updated translated into multiple languages – sometimes very roughly! Responses come from all over the globe, in every language, which evidently not all of which can be appreciated. One Danish article discussing the town’s social media efforts was posted on the Wall; met with the response of “Thank you for this link. Unfortunately, we can’t understand it, but we can read a lot of times “Obermutten”! Kind regards and see you soon.”
So what makes the Page so popular? I can’t really put my finger on it – but it might simply be curiosity of how this town lives. The Facebook Page of Obermutten almost feels like a transference of the genre of reality television: this is a town letting us into their world, into their lives. And it feels pretty damn special.
I do wonder if this is the start of a new realm of tourism: where towns begin telling their stories in real time. What do you think?
*Yes. I know you want to know. I am also on the town noticeboard in Obermutten.